Saturday, March 24, 2007

How To Disappear Up Your Own Backside In One Easy Lesson....

I had a meeting today at one of the clinics at which I work. (Yes, on a Saturday. How bloody inconsiderate is that?) I make it a point of principle never to work on a weekend, unless I am running a workshop and getting paid for it. I had to be persuaded quite hard to attend this meeting. I have too many interesting and stimulating things to do at the weekend – like grocery shopping, laundry and housework – to be bothered schlepping in to work for insignificant conversations that could just as easily be held during the week. Anyway, for various reasons the meeting was held this morning and I was persuaded to attend.

I arrived ten minutes late. In any other circumstances one could simply say “sorry for being late” and it would all be over. But this was a room full of psychotherapists. And in a room full of psychotherapists, a big cigar is never just a big cigar.

As the meeting progressed into areas of previously uncharted tedium, my mind wandered off onto the subject of my lateness. How would my colleagues view it? I suspected thus:

The Transactional Analysts would see my behaviour as a discount, either of my significance to the group or the group’s significance to me. Either way they were probably a bit pissed off, which they would have to express in order not to enter into a symbiosis with my discounting behaviour.

The Gestalt Therapists would see it as an avoidance of contact and intimacy, by my missing the ten minutes of socialising before the meeting started. That was sure to piss them off, which they would have to express to maintain their congruence.

The Psychodynamic Therapists would hypothesise that it was either an unconscious expression of anger and resentment at having to attend the meeting in the first place, or that my ‘making an entrance’ was an unconscious expression of my grandiosity and need for attention. They wouldn’t be pissed off, because they don’t do pissed off, but they might have me sprawling on a pin at some point in the future when it is but a distant memory for me.

The Relational Therapists would be processing their counter-transference – which was almost certainly irritation – and trying to understand if I was projecting my anger onto them or inviting their anger in order to replay a historic drama. Either way, they were also pissed off but I trusted that they would be able to process this internally and only bring it up with me if they felt it was useful to our process.

The Person-Centred Counsellors would want to understand my experience of lateness, before moving to an interpretation which would be nonetheless based on an unconditional positive regard for me as a person. They are nice people.

The Cognitive-Behavioural Therapists would see that I need some adjustment to my time management skills, and that just six sessions of CBT would resolve my problem. They would be pissed off if I questioned my need for CBT.

I then realised that none of them gave a monkey’s toss that I was late, which means that I am either paranoid, narcissistic, or both. I came home and had a lie down.


Stray said...

Oh Ms M, you do make me giggle.

As an engineer, I would process your lateness as being either a system design fault resulting in a lack of capacity at key bottlenecks (traffic jam), or an extreme event on the normally distributed curve of process timing (hitting all the lights red and having to circle to find a parking spot).

Someone was late for my workshop today. The (I think psychodynamic) psychotherapist leading the group said she would have to discuss this 'resistance' with her one-to-one therapist. I thought maybe the fact that 3 of the main tube lines were closed might have been a factor, but of course I kept this quiet.

We used up so much time 'processing' her lateness that we didn't really have time for the exercise. How useful!


Janejill said...

Just brilliant and really illuminating...I tried person-centred counselling - training and as a client, but, as I was a drama queen (at the time) got a bit bored; I wanted Out of my world, not to have someone else in there along with me.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi there Stray - how about getting stuck behind a tractor, which often happens to me on my way to work? Hope you enjoyed the course - sounds like the therapist has some time boundaries of her own though, if she let the process go on into exercise time.

Hi again janejill, I am really taken with what you have said

I wanted Out of my world, not to have someone else in there along with me.

and I am now pondering it seriously. I think it is most profound.

bindi said...

Those of you into Positioning Theory would analyze your lateness in terms of the way in which it was taken up by the group in the context ie the social meaning of your lateness. The analysis of the social meaning of your lateness would depend upon storylines already in progress due to previous encounters with these people, as well as the unfolding positionings and the storyline of the meeting. Therefore interviews with each participant using video-stimulated recall of the meeting itself would be in order. They will get back to you with their analysis in about 2 years, depending on whether they have to transcribe the interviews themselves or whether they can afford to pay other people to do it.

Stray said...

Ooh - yes - what about the social constructionists?

Ms M, I think you are describing something which is technically known as the "Tractor Factor". It's is very low in central London (where the "road closed due to terrorist activity" variable is higher), but quite significant in Wales, East Anglia, the Southwest and Yorkshire.

I could model it for you with some software if you like. :)

I liked what janejill said as well. Quite a captivating concept.


Cheryl said...

As a woman I would process your lateness as very clever (or lucky), well managed, impressive and in fact something to be jealous of.

This would be even more likely if the seats were numbing, the air conditioning stifling or the lights fluorescent (or worse, gah, halogen!).

Any fleeting glance you might catch which was not pity and an appreciation of the hell it took to get there, would be pure and unadulterated envy. No, I think it would be adulterated after all, with a wash of resignation and self deprecation for being on time on a Saturday ergo implying that by comparison I have no life at all and am slave to the machine. Hello Mr Boss man, pass me the sub collar and nail it on.

OK yup, time to change my tablets, I think. Sorry to bother you. Going away, right now.


swimmer6foot4 said...

Nice one, MsM, been there, done that! I thoroughly enjoyed your narrative.

As for your projected interpretations, a couple of other - just as unrealistic - possibilities struck me:

Your lateness was a manifestation of your passive aggression, or;

you are over 15 years old so you are suffering from antisocial personality disorder, or;

you are female and this disruption is your acting out of relational aggression.

As we all know, a cup of tea and a lie down will cure all the above so, I hope you're feeling better already.

Oh! and remember, timekeeping is merely a cultural norm of modern, protestant, northern European society. But if you are late, I'll still charge you!

Stray said...

Oh! and remember, timekeeping is merely a cultural norm of modern, protestant, northern European society. But if you are late, I'll still charge you!

... ah - now there's the Social Constructionist!


sheepish said...

Hi, just move to rural France, everyone is late here and it doesn't worry them at all.

If the cup of tea and lie down didn't work then try our favourite therapy, a few glasses of wine! What would that say about us???
Have an enjoyable Sunday.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi again Bindi - fantastic, a theory I haven't come across yet! This could be fun, actually. How many interpretations can we come up with?

Ah, Cheryl - you are most astute. In fact, I think you are spot on. Message: 'I have much better things to do with my weekend, and I will not be bossed around by you. I am here because I choose to be here and so will arrive in my own time.' Yes, that's about it.

Hi Swimmer, this is definitely getting to be fun. Yes, I agree with all of that. And it's almost certainly true. Especially the anti-social bit.

Hi again Stray, Tractor Factor is something that I have to take account of everytime I leave the house. I always add on an extra 15 minutes for getting stuck behind something.

Hi again Sheepish, I think you make a very good point. This whole timekeeping thing is culturally specific. I have a sister who lives in Italy and it is a nightmare holding her down to a time. She is so out of the habit. Actually, I would be the one being driven nuts by it. Can't win, really!

Caroline said...

M head is about to explode.
You're making me think too much. And it's a Sunday. And I'm only just coping with the fact that I've lost an hour today and my husband is trying to be all rational about it. But I have lost an hour ....

I need to lie down again.

Ms Melancholy said...

I so know what you mean about losing an hour. I hate it. I will spend the rest of the day trying to find it, and then tomorrow will be cross that I didn't relax quite as much as I usually do on a Sunday. I need some CBT (and that is not a phrase you will often hear me say.) I am currently sanding down an oak table, and it would be quite meditative had I not lost my hour.

Reading the Signs said...

Ms M, I have been reminded of a therapy session I had at my local health centre years ago when I was still coming to terms with M.E. All she wanted to talk about was the fact that I was apparently 5 minutes late. It didn't matter that my watch and the health centre's clock showed the same time and I had arrived spot on. Her watch said five minutes later. She told me I was being aggressive and that I had a problem with her because she was black. She wrote on my notes that I suffered from a narcissistic disorder (I asked my doctor to show me, he shrugged and tore up the notes). I only had the one session with her.

It's good to laugh.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Signs, I am quite shocked at that. First session, total no-no. If someone is repeatedly late, it is an issue. But first session, absolute no-no. And to diagnose you after one session, total no-no. Oh god, I am so pleased you can laugh about it!

david santos said...

Thanks for you work and have a good week

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi there Mr Santos,

thanks for your good wishes. I visited your profile, but I don't speak Portugese so I will give your blog a miss if that is ok with you!

rivergirlie said...

oh - soooo funny! and while you were doing all this fretting, did you lose the thread of what was being discussed, thereby making your attendance completely pointless? (sadly, this is my pattern at meetings, due to my very short attention .... oh what's that funny noise ....

Stray said...

Mr Santos has visited me too. Most odd. I didn't know they ate spam in Portugal.


Caroline said...

David Santos came to me too - I thought someone was taking the piss with the whole 'David' thing!


Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Rivergirlie (fab name, by the way - I think you have got the picture!

Hey Stray and Caroline - who is Mr David then? It does look a bit spammy doesn't it? But what is he trying to sell us?

Stray said...

Well Ms M, the babelfish translation of his profile on his blog is:

A man who understands, the death to be the thing more joust that to the human being can happen, therefore does not leave itself to buy.

So, that clears that up then.


Ms Melancholy said...

Stray, that's fantastic! Makes sense I'm sure, but I may get a headache working it out.

Ms Melancholy said...

What do you think of the pink sidebar, folks? Just fancied a bit more colour...

Stray said...

I like it :)

I liked the green too.

I think maybe I like you, and have a person-centered approach to your blog design.

Tis cheery tho'


bindi said...

Hi Miss M and Caroline, you have not lost an hour! I have found it! I have it actually. I have to thank you for it, because with the extra hour gained on Sat night we are all feeling terrific in Aus.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Stray, I'm still messing with the colours. It may all be pink by tomorrow, who knows. I like your person-centred approach. Keep it up.

Hey Bindi, thank god that someone has benefited from our lost hour. I was worried that it was all entirely in vain. I am glad that you in oz are borrowing it. Can we have it back in October, please?

Anonymous said...

The pink is lovely! Be bold, go on. And thanks so much for the blogroll, I am very touched.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Dan, still messing about with it as we speak! Updated blogroll yesterday so there are a few new ones there. Hope you well...x

Calamity Jane said...

The Retail Therapists would say, ah bless her, she had to pop into Debenhams on the way, we know that feeling.

bobo said...

Oh now Ms M, you know there is so much more to be said about such scripty behaviour (non Transactional Analysts are excused the rest of this post).

1. In Game analysis your tardiness was clearly the opening Con to start a bit of racketeering (I'm guessing a Bratty-Bossy style of argument). In which you'd enjoy a bit of Kick Me for your tardiness. Until you switched into Now I've Got You, You Son of a Bitch and lampooned the group for organising a Saturday meeting.

2. In the Miniscript you failed to hold your Conditional OK position by failing to Be Perfect, touched your Racket Feelings of Humiliation in the Stopper position, before quickly zooming off to the Blamer position in which you were able to list their failings, and so allow yourself to be OK again.

3. As a Passive Behaviour we can see this as either an advanced form of Doing Nothing or - if you felt they'd all be talking about you in your absence - of incapacitation .

4. In the Script Matrix I'm wondering who modelled the behaviour of "Ladies are Fashionably Late", feeding into a Don't Be Important (enough to have your opinions aired) injunction.

5. And I'm not even going to speculate on the whole smelly mess of your Racket System, with its strange beliefs about self, others and world. I just hope this wont be yet another reinforcing memory to add to the stack of bent pennies.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi there CJ, I'm with you. Retail therapy is the way forward.

Hey BoBo, you know that I love you dearly. Thank you for your erudite use of Transactional Analysis. #1 I refute entirely. #2 I didn't understand (which is a reflection on me, not you.) #3 I hate that theory. #4 Do you know my mother? #5 I am willing to concede that you may have a point here. Do I need to pay you now?

Janejill said...

If you are me, you have to allow 60 minutes tractor factor - I once got stuck behind a tractor - at least I think it was a tractor - it was very heavily overloaded with hay, which was not properly secured and - yes, that's what happened. The girl at the insurance company couldn't stop giggling ..

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi JJ - yes, that time of year fairly makes me sweat. It is very hairy driving behind a hug hay laden trailer. I also worry at lambing time, as we have a moorland road with no walls at all, and it is not unusual to turn a corner and be faced with a sheep pottering about the road. I couldn't bear to hit a lamb, although for some reason the sheep don't cause me the same level of anxiety. Ageism, perhaps.

Janejill said...

I would feel the same; funnily, I can EAT (a) lamb but not a sheep - now how do I rationalise that?

Ms Melancholy said...

Yes, absolutely! Lamb is to eat, mutton is not. My step-daughter won't eat lamb, because they are cute and lovely. Which is absolutely fair enough. She will eat ham though, because she 'doesn't really like pigs'. It so makes me laugh. 'I don't like you, therefore I will eat you.'

swimmer6foot4 said...

'Fraid I'm with your step-daughter here (except in my case it's that I like - and respect - pigs) and could never eat pig meat. Lamb, mutton, beef and venison are all meats I thoroughly enjoy eating but not cooking.

But I HATE hay! Thankfully, now I've moved to Hackney I don't have to encounter it too often.

Ms Melancholy said...

So you don't get hay trailers in Hackney, Swimmer? How sad! I used to live in Hackney, actually, and I would cycle to Camden to work. It was terrifying. I would rather take on the hay wagons.

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